"I have purchased Lahore with my life, By giving my life for Lahore, Actually I have purchased another Paradise" Moghul Empress Noor Jahan

Lahore is undoubtedly ancient. Legend has it that it was founded by Loh, son of Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Some others think that the name means Loh-awar, meaning a "Fort as strong as Iron". It waxed and waned in importance during the Sultanate. But, Muslim rule began here when Qutub-ud-din Aibak was crowned in Lahore in 1206 and thus became the first Muslim Sultan of the subcontinent.

It reached its full glory under Mughal rule from 1524 to 1752. It was Akbar's capital for the 14 years from 1584 to 1598. He built the massive Lahore Fort on the foundations of a previous fort and enclosed the city within a red brick wall boasting 12 gates. Jahangir and Shah Jahan extended the fort, built palaces and tombs, and laid out gardens. Jahangir loved the town and he and his wife Noor Jahan are buried at Shahdara. Shah Jahan was born in Lahore and added buildings. The last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb (1658-1707), gave Lahore its most famous monument, the great Badshahi Masjid and the Alamgiri gateway to the fort.

Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan. It has been the capital of Punjab for nearly a thousand years. Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan and has one of its best museums. It has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It is a fine place to watch the world rush by. The improbable mix of painted trucks, cars, bullock carts, buses, handcarts, scooters with whole families. A classical city, according to the words of Moghul Empress Noor Jahan.

I arrived in Lahore on January 19th and was greeted at the airport by my brother Rafiq, his wife Razia and my niece Ruma.  While in Lahore I had myself checked for chest pains that I had been having. The angiogram showed two blocked arteries. An angioplasty was performed on January 30th to fix both arteries.

Now on to the fun stuff.


With Shahid and Shahjehan
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With Nadeem, Shahid and Mannan
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Shahid, Nadeem and Mannan
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Lunch at a chinese restaurant with Razia, Ruma and Rafiq
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My niece Ruma
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New Food Street
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"Panwalla" at Food Street
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New Food Street
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Cars have to share the road with horse and donkey carts
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A fruit and juice vendor
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Roadside barber
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Lahore is famous for its food
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More food
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Wedding garlands made from real currency notes
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Anyone for a camel ride in the park?
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Preparing for a music party
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Rafiq playing guitar
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Party in full smoke-filled swing
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Food break
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Drinks and dessert
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Vegetables and fruits market
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Another market scene
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Cooco's Cafe
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Lahore Fort
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Me at the Fort Gate
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Rafiq in front yard with friend
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Punjab University
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Lahore Musum
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Race-course park during spring festival
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A cute donkey
The Zamzama Canon made famous by Rudyard Kipling in "Kim"
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Lahore Court House
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Motor-rickshaw passengers
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Pavilion holding a quran with gold engravings
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A view of the quran in the pavilion
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I went with Shahid Siraj to experience the drumming of one Pappu Sain,who plays every Thursday at the shrine of Hazrat Shah Jamal. The shrine is a 2-storey building, access to which is gained by a flight of steps. The tomb of the saint is at the upper level within a walled enclosure with a spacious courtyard. The saint died in 1650 during the reign of Shah Jahan.
When we arrived around 10:30 pm, a lot of people were sitting on the floor in a circle in the shrine's courtyard. We took position, standing behind some people to get a good view. It was quite dark. We could still make out that practically everyone there was smoking pot. Some even had a contraption that held about 10-12 pot cigarettes in it and it was being passed around while people took deep puffs from it.
Pappu Sain was late that evening and didn't show up to play until about midnight. He was accompanied by another drummer. The drums they played are called "dhol" (Pappu Sain is also called Pappu Dholwala). It is a two-sided, barrel-shaped drum. It is usually played with the hands or sticks while the drum hangs from the neck on a strap.
It was well worth the wait to see Pappu Sain play. He first started by standing on one side of the circle and playing while slowly and slowly people started dancing in the circle as if they were in a trance. Many of them feverishly went around spinning like a top. Many of the people dancing inside the circle were dressed in long dresses and were devotees of Hazrat Shah Jamal Pappu Sain. Later, as the frenzy of the beat picked up, Pappu Sain stepped inside the circle and himself started spinning around in circles. It was quite a sight to see the drum stretched out from his neck, flying in the air, while he continued to play on it, keeping perfect beat and spinning around at the same time.
Unfortunately, videotaping and photographing is not allowed. I didn't know that. I managed to get a little bit of video before Pappu Sain himself gestured to me and said to put away the camera. The following photos are stills captured from the little bit of video that I got.

The crowd waits in anticipation (and smokes pot)
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The drumming starts, a lone devotee is dancing while another walks around
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Pappu Sain is on the left
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Meeting with old school friends : Rafiq, Sohail, Haroon, Tariq and I
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Hazrat Syed Ali bin Usman Hajweri, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh ( Bestower of Spiritual Treasures ) belonged to a place called Hajwer in the town of Ghazni, Afghanistan. He lived during the 11th century AD, and was well versed in all the Islamic sciences such as Tafsir ( exegesis ) of the Holy Qur'an, Hadith ( Traditions of the Prophet ), Fiqh ( Muslim Law ) and dogmatic theology ( Ilmu Kalam ).
In the course of his spiritual journey to God, he journeyed physically to many countries, often alone and with hardship. These places included Turkestan, Transoxania, Iran, Iraq, and Syria where he met innumerable Sufi sheikhs, many of whom he has mentioned in his book 'Kashf ul Mahjoob'. He came to Lahore in the later part of his life for the specific purpose of Tablegh ( preaching and teaching ) Islam, converting large numbers of people into Muslim Ummah. He passed away in Lahore in 1077 AD, where his shrine currently stands. Data Darbar shrine is open 24 hours and is visited by people of all walks of life, from far and near.

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The night before I left Lahore for Karachi and on to Istanbul, I invited some of my friends to dinner at a local hotel. It was a nice buffet dinner in the hotel garden, with music provided by a sitar player and a tabla drummer.

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Spinning Mill

Sunday Bazaar

Pakistani Trucks

After the advent of Islam in sixth century AD a new style of construction came into being which was later known as Islamic Architecture. It has won significance and a powerful influence all over the world. In Asia we see many such buildings in Indo-Pak, Iran, Turkey, China, Arabian countries and Central Asian States.

In the Indo-Pak sub-continent region the Moghal period can be said as the golden era in which, apart from other important events, the art of construction and architecture reached its climax especially in the regime of Shah Jehan.

There are several forts, castles, palaces, gardens, tombs and mosques, which portray this art. In this context, Taj Mahal at Agra is an example of no match.

Below are links to some of the finest examples of Moghal architecture, all located in Lahore.

Shalamar Garden

Badshahi Mosque

The Mausoleums

Wazir Khan Mosque